What it does: Safeguards the borders
Staff stats: Around 15,000 (including ABF)
The good bits: Job security, meaningful work
The not so good bits: Public-sector bureaucracy
The Department of Home Affairs – the Australian equivalent of the UK’s Home Office or the US’s Department of Homeland Security – has been around since Federation. Its bailiwick has shifted over time. At various points it’s been known as the Department of Home and Territories, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Home Affairs and Environment.
Since its latest iteration was launched in late 2017, the Department of Home Affairs’ responsibilities includes national security, law enforcement, emergency management, border control, immigration, refugees, citizenship and multicultural affairs.
The Department of Home Affairs was established as part of the Home Affairs Portfolio. The Portfolio includes ASIO, the Australian Border Force, the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Australian Federal Police. It is headed by the Secretary of Home Affairs who reports to the Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs. The Department (including its agencies) receives around $3.5 billion of funding a year.
As would be expected of a public-sector employer, the Department of Home Affairs is committed to diversity and inclusion. It aspires to hire more Indigenous Australians and provides a “special measures application process will be open to applicants who are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent”. The Department also takes part in the Australian Public Service’s (APS) RecruitAbility scheme. This encourages disabled Australians to apply for APS jobs and gives them extra opportunities to “put forward [their] skills and experience during the selection process”.
The Department’s Gender Equality Action Plan 2017-20 aims to ensure gender equality both in employment practices and leadership roles and allow staff of all genders to work flexibly.
The Department hosts several staff networks including the Indigenous Employee Network, Focus on Ability Network, Staff Advancing Gender Equality Network and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Network.
Australia is a small trading nation with a continent-encompassing border. By policing the movement of people, goods and financial assets over the country’s physical and cyber borders, the Department of Home Affairs plays a vital role in Australia remaining a safe and prosperous nation engaged with the rest of the world.
Grads from a wide range of disciplines are eligible to apply for the Department of Home Affairs’ grad program. At the current time, you’ll be at an advantage if you have a degree in any of the following:
While not quite as useful as the aforementioned degrees, qualifications in any of the following are likely to give you an edge over other candidates:
Whatever their academic background, the Department of Home Affairs aims to hire people who “can problem-solve complex issues, think critically, have good judgment and decision-making skills [as well as] excellent written and verbal communication skills”.
Given the nature of the work, you’ll need to be an Australian citizen, have completed a degree at an Australian university within the last five years and be able to obtain an Australian Government Security Agency clearance and a Departmental Employment Suitability Clearance. You’ll also need to relocate to Canberra.
The recruitment process begins with an online application. This is made via the careers page on the Department’s website. After creating a candidate profile, you’ll need to upload your personal details and CV as well as answer some questions relating to the selection criteria.
If you make the cut, you’ll then proceed to the online testing stage. This can involve psychometric and cognitive-ability testing and game-based assessment. If that goes well, you’ll be invited to do a 15-minute video interview. The final major hurdle is an assessment centre try-out. This involves a panel interview, group activity and work-sample testing. Past candidates continually rate the Home Affairs assessment centres as the best they have attended. Candidates have really enjoyed having a past graduate there to answer all their questions.
Following this, assuming your references check out, you will be added to the merit pool. Making it into the merit pool doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a grad position, so don’t go giving notice to your current employer. If you do receive an offer, you’ll then need to obtain the relevant security clearances before your employment is confirmed. (From start to finish, this process takes 4-5 months.)
The grad program goes for 12 months and involves up to three rotations.
Rotations are decided with reference to current business requirements and can involve working in the following business areas:
The program is designed to provide grads with a range of work experiences, on-the-job learning and development opportunities and vocational training. Grads have access to a graduate coordinator, buddy and Senior Executive Service mentor.
By the end of the program, you should have the knowledge and skills required for a successful career in the Department of Home Affairs or elsewhere in the APS.
Grads are given an APS4 ranking, which means they start on a salary of $66,443. Department staff receive generous super benefits. They are also eligible for a comprehensive range of allowances and forms of leave (e.g. adoption, annual, ceremonial, community service, long service, NAIDOC, parental and personal leave.)
You can expect to have to pay your dues before you start rising up the org chart. That noted, the Department strives “to create a motivating and rewarding working environment in which we value performance, our people, integrity, service and service standards”.
The Department offers all the advantages of a public-sector job with few of the typical drawbacks. Unlike some public-sector employees, you’re unlikely to be bored or question the value of your activities. Department staff work in over 100 locations in and outside of Australia. They play a crucial role in ensuring national security, protecting offshore maritime resources and regulating the movement of people and goods across the nation’s borders. If that sounds interesting to you, and you don’t mind spending a lot of time in Canberra, this could be the grad program for you.
Australia prospers significantly from being open, engaged and connected to the rest of the world. Whether it is cyberspace, the movement of people, goods, or financial assets: our engagement with the world creates tremendous opportunities for individuals and Australia’s collective prosperity.
Whether it is through our contribution to world-class trade and migration programs, protecting the Australian border, community, financial sector or critical infrastructure, or other national security activities—our ultimate mission is to contribute through our unique capabilities, to ensure an Australia that is prosperous, secure and united.
Department of Home Affairs graduates will carry out work with real purpose.
We want people who can problem-solve complex issues, think critically, have good judgment and decision making skills, excellent written and verbal communication skills and participate in a culture that values diversity, respect and inclusion.
Our graduate program offers professional development, excellent employment conditions, support of various diversity networks, rewarding professional relationships, mentors and buddies as well as endless career opportunities and pathways.